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Transgenic goat's milk offers hope for tackling children's intestinal disease

It's hard to improve on milk, but animal scientists at the University of California, Davis, have found that milk produced by transgenic goats, which carry the gene for an antibacterial enzyme found in human breast milk, altered the intestinal bacteria in young goats and pigs that were fed the milk.

The researchers hope these findings will one day lead to milk that protects infants and children against diarrheal illnesses, which each year kill more than 2 million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The results of their study will be reported in the August issue of the international journal Transgenic Research.

"This goat's milk represents one of the first transgenic food products that has the potential to really benefit human health," said Professor Jim Murray, who led the study along with Professor Gary Anderson and animal scientist Elizabeth Maga. "The results of the study indicate that the protective, antibacterial characteristics of lysozyme-rich human breast milk are also present in milk produced by transgenic goats that carry the gene for lysozyme."

Background

Lysozyme is a protein found in the tears, saliva and milk of all mammals. It is found at high levels in human breast milk, however goat's milk contains only 0.06 percent as much lysozyme as does human milk. Lysozyme inhibits the growth of bacteria by destroying the bacterial cell wall, causing the contents of the cell to leak out.

Because lysozyme limits the growth of bacteria that cause intestinal infections and diarrhea, and encourages the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, lysozyme is considered to be one of the main components of human milk that contribute to the health and well-being of breast-fed infants.

For more than a decade, UC Davis researchers have been looking for ways to enrich the milk of cows and goats with some of the beneficial compounds like lysozyme that are found in human breast milk. About
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Source:University of California - Davis


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